Be it a commercial, retail or residential property, those businesses that are leasing your property expect a measure of quality and upkeep at your building. Not only is it an issue from a quality of life or health point-of-view, but it’s also a concern from a regulatory standpoint.
For example, today’s occupational health and safety codes require employers to guarantee that their workspaces meet indoor air quality standards (IAQ) in other words that they are free of toxins and other major health risks to their employees. This means that employers are obligated to supply a high standard of indoor air quality and can’t tolerate the presence of asbestos, lead and mold in their offices.
Not only is the presence of such substances undesirable, but employers could be legally liable if their employees are affected by them. In effect, companies will avoid affected properties and will do so until it’s not only resolved but when you develop a positive reputation.
The best course of action is to prevent mold, asbestos, and lead from becoming health hazards in your properties. Below, we discuss how each one can negatively affect your building(s).
For More on Toxic Substances Affecting Buildings:
- The Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure and the Diseases Causing Them
- 11 Symptoms of Lead Exposure
- Why Mold and Asbestos Removal Cost So Much & How You Can Finance Them
Mold is a naturally occurring, common fungi that’s crucial for ecological development. But it has no place in our buildings. Firstly, mold can cause a range of health problems including headaches, skin irritation and, for those with asthma, a worsening of conditions. Secondly, mold proliferation — especially large ones — may be expensive to recover from as they require reconstruction work.
Basically, mold contamination occurs when mold spores enter our buildings and latch onto areas which are damp, humid or heavy in moisture. Once in place, the mold spores will grow in those environments and, with time, become outbreaks.
To prevent a mold outbreak, it’s vital that you prevent your property from having damp, moist or wet areas. For example, bathrooms that are not regularly cleaned and dehumidified are at risk of developing a mold outbreak. Likewise, if your building receives water damage (e.g. a leak or flooding), a mold infection can begin within 48 to 72 hours of the event.
If you’re already affected by mold, then your first step should be to contact a professional mold remediation contractor to properly assess your problem and solve it.
Asbestos, especially serpentine asbestos, is a natural substance with fibre-like qualities. Before the 1990s, serpentine asbestos was a popular material for insulating and fireproofing buildings. In fact, Canada itself was at one point the leading exporter of serpentine asbestos, accounting for as much as 40% of the world’s supply.
However, the severe health-risks resulting from asbestos exposure have pushed most countries and industries to drop the substance in favour of safer alternatives.
Asbestos is a highly “friable” substance, which means that it can easily be crushed into a small powdered form that can enter people’s lungs through inhalation. Several decades of asbestos exposure can result in severe health problems, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
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Fortunately, asbestos is less of a concern for new buildings. However, asbestos may be an issue for older buildings provided it’s fully sealed (i.e. unable to contaminate the spaces where people work or reside), an older building is at high-risk of asbestos exposure.
As buildings age, its walls, tiles and other surfaces gradually lose their integrity and form minor cracks. Those cracks are more than enough for asbestos fibres to penetrate and flow through in order to contaminate your building’s air supply. You will also need to see if asbestos is lining your plumbing or piping structures; if compromised, asbestos could taint your water.
The best approach is to have that asbestos removed entirely by a professional environmental contractor to correctly understand the extent of your asbestos content, develop a plan for fully removing it and provide the necessary staff, equipment and measures to get it done.
Lead is a popular substance for industrial use, but the world moved away from using lead for applications that could come into contact with people, such as interior paint, since the 1960s.
However, much like the presence of asbestos in old buildings, there could still be lead-based paint and lead-soldered piping in old buildings. Moreover, lead — like asbestos and mold — is also a dangerous substance that must be handled with extreme care.
Lead poisoning has two-fold effects, i.e. near-term and long-term. In the near-term, lead can cause your occupants to suffer from headaches, muscle, and joint pain, lack of concentration and other health issues. In the long-term, it can affect people through damage to their bodily (including reproductive and neurological) functions.
Should you determine the presence of lead in your building(s), then contact a professional lead abatement contractor immediately.
Asbestos, mold, and lead have one thing in common: these are harmful, controlled substances that must be handled with extreme care. In fact, because these substances are dangerous the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) mandates that those handling them — and that includes removal jobs — are provided special equipment and follow specific processes.
Not complying with the OHSA is not only illegal, but it’s also dangerous as it puts those trying to remove those materials and your occupants at risk. Get your environmental remediation services done right the first time by using a professional environmental contractor such as FERRO Environmental.